This hike offers some of the best views across the Chattahoochee, along with the East Palisades Route
, its sister trail across the river. It is accessed via the paved Bob Callan Trail
from the south end, which can be added in full (out-and-back) at the beginning or end if you want a longer hike.
The trail plunges up and down over a few ridges in the wooded areas near the river, allowing for a good mixture of cardio-pumping, hill work and flat sections to catch your breath in the low-lying areas by the river as well as on top of the ridges.
Start at the trailhead from the park at the south end (WP 1). The trail starts out on a paved, multi-use fitness path that finds its way next to the river for a while and crosses under Interstate 75 at about 0.4 miles.
Just after that, cross a footbridge and find two trail entrances into the woods. Take the second one ( WP03-WP04
) on the right. It climbs gradually at first, then continues up a steep, cardio-pumping hill. You'll pass WP 4 about halfway up and finally come to the top at about the one-mile mark. Enjoy level hiking for about a quarter mile along the top of this elevation ridge with some nice views through the trees (especially in winter). As you begin to descend again, find WP 6 on the right and turn right (if you go straight it dumps into a neighborhood).
The trail will descend to a creek bed and make a short climb back up to WP 8. This will be a wide, flat trail that almost looks like it doubles as part of the service road. Take a right at WP 8 here and follow it all the way to WP 11. There is a picnic area near a small sandy beach and restroom building here (but as of February 2017 it is under construction). There is a spur that continues a bit further along the river, ending at another beach-like area with nice views across the river shoals.
Retrace your steps back through WP 11, 10, and stay along the river (which will be on your left now). When the trail forks at that wooden post, stay left (next to the river) for a moment for another nice lookout point, then keep right at the next fork to head across a wooden boardwalk over the forest floor. This ends at WP 7. Take a right here, and cross over a wooden and metal footbridge that is more stable than it looks. Stay straight after the bridge and climb elevation for a couple minutes to WP 8 (passing by WP 14).
At WP 8, you'll see a fork as you take a left down the hill. Take this fork in either direction, as the two trails re-combine within about 100 feet. Continue retracing the route back through WP 6 (take a left there) and, as you come back down that first big hill of the hike, WP 4 will be about halfway down on the left (slightly off to the side and facing away from you from this way). Take the left here at WP 4 and continue a couple of sharp descents (about a quarter mile or less) until it levels out just before WP 5. Take a left at WP 5 and follow the mostly level trail right along the river all the way to WP 2.
Along this section, there is one technical spot where you'll need to do a little scrambling over a large boulder formation. It almost looks like the trail dead-ends here, or goes around to the left by the water; you can go that way to get a great overlook and area to sit, but you'll have to backtrack and follow the trail over and through the rocks a little higher up. Put your hands down as needed!
When you get to WP 2, just follow the paved path to the left and over the bridge to get back to the parking lot. (You can also take a right and follow the rest of the paved path out and back if you want an extra couple of easy miles. See Bob Callan Trail